I have been away – away from this blog and away in Melbourne. I haven’t been in Melbourne for six months though – just under six days. It was cold. It was wet. It was windy. It was inspiring – enough to get me writing again.
Melbourne’s cold has a smell – it’s a wet smell of winter rain at the entrance to Flinders Street station. It’s the mild reek of garbage as you pass brick alleys lit up with street art. A pong of horse manure dropped as a buggy passes by. Very reminiscent of Mumbai. The smell of a city.
For me, Melbourne represents the Other Side – the rest of Australia. The bit I’ve not yet encountered. She is far more fashionable than Perth – the passers-by are smartly dressed and pressed. My Target coat feels like a dowdy sack when one sales assistant looks dubious at my announcement that I am a Medium or perhaps even a size 10, thank you. “Why you’re tiny!” she exclaims when I strip off my precious warm layers. I’m still not sure what to think about that. I bought a new coat.
I’d like to reel off, guidebook style, just what you can see and do. I’d never finish. The city has a lot to offer and I’ve only scratched the surface. I have walked and walked – into Gothic-spired cathedrals, across leafless parks, through an exhibition of Renaissance art from Spain, into an aquarium with king penguins, onto a tram that went to Richmond instead of Toorak village – yes, I was lost in Melbourne – and finally from an enthralling performance of The King and I to our gracefully aging hotel.
I can now recognise Melbourne’s skyline in the morning news. A snapshot of a frame with “City Centre” is now distinguishable as a tram sign. Nameless glittering spires turn into headquarters of leading banks. Melbourne has meaning now. I hope to return one day and renew the relationship – all of it – her stores and stories, spires, alleys, museums and galleries. Perhaps when it’s warmer, although I have a new coat now. I highly recommend the experience – and a good pair of walking shoes.